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HomeHigh SchoolANOTHER VIEW: Watauga rolls by North Davidson, 56-14

ANOTHER VIEW: Watauga rolls by North Davidson, 56-14

By Zach Smith. WELCOME, N.C. – Looking to finish the 2023 early, non-conference schedule undefeated, Watauga traveled southeast to face North Davidson, Sept. 15. The two squads had only met once previously, in a 2014 playoff game.

While the Black Knights defeated Watauga handily nine years ago, the Pioneers dominated this time around.

Junior quarterback Maddox Greene continued his impressive form, putting up 307 total yards in the first half before being taken out of the game to give fellow junior QB Matthew Habich time to run the stout Watauga offense.

Sophomore Evan Burroughs also showed out, returning one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and adding another score on the ground.

The Pioneers wasted no time scoring as they drove 86 yards after receiving the opening kickoff. Later in the half, Greene exploded for two rushes of 50+ yards, scoring on one.

upsets occur when you take a team for granted.

Head coach Ryan Habich spoke on Greene’s electric first half performance post-game.

“They came out with a different defense than we saw all week,” Habich said. “Basically, we made an adjustment. I told [Greene] ‘If they keep running this defense, we’re gonna run the same play over and over until they make a change.’

“And then, of course, they made an adjustment and went back to their normal defense,” Habich added. “And then we got up so much that we started running our base offense. For every defense, we have a plan for attack.”

The Friday night game, for some teams, could have been a “trap game,” where the favorites can get distracted by an emotional victory in the prior week. Habich explained how he and the rest of the coaching staff kept Watauga focused after their big win at A.C. Reynolds a week ago (Sept. 8).

“Believe it or not, I like to go back to the past, in this case to 2017. We lost to St. Stephens, a team that only won three games that year, I think, and we had a big emotional win over a ranked Hickory for homecoming the prior week. So we turned around on the road and lost to St. Stephens,” Habich said. “We actually watched highlights of that game in class and told the kids ‘Hey listen, we’re a better football team if we execute against North Davidson. We can’t play down to their level.’ Upsets occur when you take a team for granted.”

The Pioneers did execute this time, earning the 42-point margin needed for a running game clock around the halfway point of the third quarter, before finishing their dominant victory, 56-14.

With the win, Watauga is 5-0 for the first time since a COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 season. It’s the first time they’ve won their first five games in a full-length season since 2018, where they went on to finish the regular season undefeated.

Habich was confident when speaking about the next stage of Watauga’s season, the Northwestern Conference schedule, where the goal is to win another championship.

“I think we’re really prepared. We’ve played some good football teams and we’ve played some good football teams on the road,” Habich said. “The Maiden win (Sept. 1) was pretty special, then beating A.C. Reynolds at A.C. Reynolds, and beating T.C. Roberson (Aug. 18), too. We’ve just had some close games in the fourth quarter playing two really good football teams. You’re gonna see those teams win a lot of football games this year as they hit conference play.”

Watauga moves to 5-0 on the season while North Davidson falls to 1-4. The Pioneers have a bye on Sept. 22, but return home for a matchup against South Caldwell to open conference play Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 7:30p.m. The game can be streamed via the NFHS Network.

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